The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association has outlined concerns around public access and hillwalking and is warning of a very difficult summer if farmer concerns are not addressed.
The Association’s National Vice President, Pheilim Molloy, stressed the need for immediate engagement between State bodies, local authorities and farmers.
He said over the past year there had been a major increase in the number of people accessing hills.
This, in turn, had led to a significant increase in the number of farmers contacting the INHFA.
He said the farmers were distressed and frustrated by some hillwalkers showing scant regard for them and their property.
Mr Molloy said these farmers had outlined details of dog attacks on sheep and the blocking of gateways and access routes through illegal parking.
Instances had also been reported of verbal abuse towards farmers when walkers were challenged for disobeying signs.
Additional concerns outlined by the INHFA Representative were gates being left open, fences being broken and increased litter, as well as the ever-increasing risk of fires resulting from a growth in wild camping.
Mr Molloy said farmers had been more than patient, but this patience and their goodwill is not something that should be taken for granted.